I have been helping with the adult Ceramics class at the High School that I taught at years ago. The class is made up of teachers in the district, mostly in other majors, with some art teachers included.
While working during the class, I noticed that one of the experienced throwers was having problems with the forms being quite often off center. I really couldn't put my finger on what was the problem as he was a left handed thrower that throws left handed. His smaller forms seemed to be pretty well on center, but when he was working larger they were off center. I had not really paid a whole lot of attention to it as, he was experienced, and I really didn't know how to approach it, but helped when I could even helping him with rim problems or form development. This last Saturday, I was throwing some pieces next to him and happened to see him centering for the first time. . . . it suddenly dawned on me. . . . he was centering on the left side of the wheel with the clay going clockwise! I asked him, where he learned to do that, and he told me he had seen others centering and that was what he learned to do. When I explained to him that he had to work with the clay going into the base of his palm braced by the arm braced in to the body at the hip, he started to realize that his centering was on the wrong side. We did moved him to the right side of the wheel, and he centered the next few pieces of clay effortlessly, and was able to throw much more on center.
Point being here, a simple foundation step erroneously learned prevented him from moving beyond smaller amounts of clay when throwing. I always stressed the basics in class, and would always tell students to learn to walk before they could run. At the same time, I tried to get beginners whether left or right handed to learn as a right hander. This may have been poor on my part, but in my classes it was easier. However, if someone could not learn how to throw on the right, I could reasonable demonstrate and help them on the left.
Have you ever seen someone struggle because of poor or erroneous understanding and control of the basics?